Entertainment

Strictly runner-up John Whaite backs Angela Rippon and Layton Williams to shine

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe finished as runners-up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 (Jacob King/PA)
John Whaite and Johannes Radebe finished as runners-up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 (Jacob King/PA) John Whaite and Johannes Radebe finished as runners-up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2021 (Jacob King/PA)

Bake Off star John Whaite has picked broadcaster Angela Rippon and actor Layton Williams as his favourites to impress on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Whaite made Strictly history in 2021 alongside professional dance partner Johannes Radebe as the first all-male couple and finished as runners-up behind soap star Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice.

The 34-year-old is backing the show’s oldest contestant Rippon, who will be 79 when the programme is filmed, and Bad Education actor Williams to shine during the 21st series of the BBC One dancing competition, which kicks off this autumn.

He told the PA news agency while promoting his new memoir Dancing On Eggshells: “The Strictly line-up this year, I am excited about them.

“I think Angela Rippon is going to be amazing, my money is on Angela… But also Layton, that kid is a star darling. I can’t wait to see what he does.

“I’ll be watching every week with my popcorn and baked goods.”

Rippon became the first regular female news anchor on the BBC in 1975 and went on to host shows including Strictly predecessor Come Dancing between 1988 to 1991.

Strictly Come Dancing 2023
Strictly Come Dancing 2023 Angela Rippon and Layton Williams are among the 15 contestants on Strictly this year (BBC/PA)

She will be the show’s oldest contestant after TV personality Johnny Ball, the father of BBC Radio 2 presenter Zoe Ball, who took part in 2012 aged 74.

Meanwhile, Williams, who is best known for playing Stephen Carmichael in the sitcom Bad Education, rose to fame as a child, playing the title role in Billy Elliot The Musical in London’s West End.

The 28-year-old has also performed in stage shows including Thriller Live, Rent, Hairspray and, from 2019, he played the title character in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

The pair are among the 15 contestants putting their best foot forward on the dance floor this year, alongside comedian Les Dennis, former tennis star Annabel Croft, and soap actors Nigel Harman, Bobby Brazier, Ellie Leach and Adam Thomas.

The line-up also includes Paralympic champion Jody Cundy, BBC Asian Network radio host Nikita Kanda, Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, and former Love Island star Zara McDermott.

TV presenter Angela Scanlon will also feature, alongside Sherlock star Amanda Abbington, and stand-up comic Eddie Kadi.